Immigration: What's next?

Kristin Markway/Medill News Service(in the NWITimes)/[[October 1, 2006]]/ link

Immigration experts from across the nation met Wednesday ([[September 27, 2006]]) in Chicago and praised Illinois as one of the "most progressive" states for immigration policies.

However, they said, there are serious problems with other state and national immigration laws.

The panelists -- from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago -- were in town for a meeting of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's national advisory panel on immigration. The committee was created as part of an executive order passed by the governor last November to create a strategic approach to the growing immigrant population.

...Doris Meissner, the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, said if any bill passed during this congressional session, it would not dramatically change the current situation.

...Randel Johnson, vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits for the [[U.S. Chamber of Commerce]] in Washington, D.C., said the time lapse should not be a concern.

...In reference to the removal of many illegal immigrant families from Stillmore, Ga., Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said the lack of decisive legislative action has "produced a stalemate, but that doesn't mean enforcement isn't happening."

Sharry also said local officials could be hostile toward immigrants, particularly with the impending national elections.

However, Sharry said the chances of that occurring in Chicago, or any other large city, is unlikely.

..."They're going to remember these sorts of things," said Juan Salgado, executive director of Chicago's Instituto del Progreso Latino. "It creates a very strong reaction in the way we respond to those (candidates)."

Marcelo Gaete, a leader on Latino political participation from Los Angeles, said more than 2 million Hispanics mobilized this year by taking part in political rallies and marches as well as registering to vote...